Love Freezes Time: Goodbye First Love 

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Goodbye First Love

Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

Opens April 20

Perpetual butterflies, a love that always seems new, is the subject of Goodbye First Love, the sensitive but unsentimental third film from Mia Hansen-Løve. Time has always been the primary subject of her films, so a natural subject for her is a young woman's inability to "turn the page," as Hansen-Løve has described it, on a love that feels like it's never ended and can always begin again.

Lola Créton (Bluebeard's teenage bride with the preternaturally sapient gaze in Catherine Breillat's filmed fairytale) plays Camille, the young woman who can't get over him. Though her style evolves from 1999 through 2007, the actress doesn't age as the character transitions from a schoolgirl to a professional architect. Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), the dopey and mop-headed photographer with a winning grin who dodges her adoration in order to backpack around the world, also stays the same. This is the most obvious way that Hansen-Løve freezes time. 

While ostensibly about an unshakeable physical attraction, the film mostly dwells respectfully in Camille's solitude after she's been abandoned. It's about life that goes on in the absence of love. She refuses to move on, but while time seems to have stopped for her emotionally, she's taken on a new all-encompassing love: an occupation. That her eventual new lover is her professor seems an admission that sometimes work and love are the same thing. This is also clearly autobiographical, since Hansen-Løve learned filmmaking (a practical and lofty skill not unlike architecture) under the tutelage of her own lover-mentor Olivier Assayas. With this film, though, she shakes off his influence that was obvious in her last film, Father of My Children: the sequences of elliptical (rather than still) time, and the clichéd gazing-at-the-Seine scenes. Her own style emerges here—elegant and original. She hasn't quite shaken the too on-the-nose use of pop songs, though; here it's the wistful, shimmering folk of the Incredible String Band. Though it does work when one long, twanging instrumental underlies the montage when Camille meets her architect, and a new chapter of her life begins. Though she can't turn the page, she can flip the record over.


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